What the buffalo mean to our people

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Time never stops and is always moving us forward and through the changes of seasons. Time stands as an unforgiving taskmaster that regulates the passage through eternal tides.

 

One breath at a time and one second at a time adds together to a life well lived or one filled with sadness at missed opportunities to make the world a better place. On this September day there was peace, prayers, songs and the drum joining together with the buffalo and humans in a meadow where time seemed to stand still. 

The winds calmed, there was no falling snow or rain, the birds called to each other, buffalo slept peacefully or dusted themselves in the soft dirt and simply lived at peace as a family unit.

As Scott began his prayers with the pipe and in praying with and for the buffalo, a door opened that linked our past, present and our future.

pray for the buffalo

Scott Frazier lifts prayers for the buffalo

As Dr. Mann began her prayers in her language and sang her song for the buffalo and for the People, I felt a profound joy at having that precious voice lifting all these things for the buffalo. When John began to play the drum and the song was lifted, again my heart was filled to overflowing. 

There was so much to be grateful for and so many good prayers being lifted between this family gathered with the buffalo. Time seemed to join what our ancestors had done to the present moment where we were gathered and be carrying forward that hope for the next generations to come to also carry our ways forward into time. 

To understand more about what the buffalo mean to our People and in particular, for the Cheyenne, I share this story from Dr. Henrietta Mann in hopes that by knowing our past, we can move these traditions forward to our collective future in a good way.
 
“The So’taa’eo’o, a group of Cheyennes, are the buffalo people who brought us our sacred buffalo cap and its accompanying ceremony, the Sun Dance or “New Life Lodge.” Members of our spiritual community are “the buffalo people.” As a buffalo person I am related to the most holy four legged buffalo people who have sustained us over time. Historically, they suffered the same fate the natural, ordinary people of this land did and they, too, were driven nearly to extinction.

Today is no different for the buffalo people and it saddens me deeply that some of them will not live to see another springtime. I was pleased to have joined a pilgrimage and to see them in all their ethereal beauty. What could I do? I could only add my thoughts, my voice, my prayer, and my song to the others and speak to them of my great love and respect for them. I shed tears over the fact that they continue to bless us with their lives. I am blessed. 

The buffalo stand as a symbol of endurance and compassion and they continue to represent both physical and spiritual food for the people. They provide that unbreakable lifeline with the sacred past, a lifeline that continues to exist today and stretches far into tomorrow. 

Dr. Henrietta Mann faces the buffalo herd and offers her prayers and songs

Dr. Henrietta Mann faces the buffalo herd and offers her prayers and songs

It is a heart line connection that brings happiness and goodness to all their relations. I greeted them in joy, just as I know my great-grandmother White Buffalo Woman did more than a century ago. The buffalo people taught her, just as she has taught and touched the generations since. For this I thank her. For this I thank the buffalo. 

I send my prayers out to the Above Spirit, to the Earth, and to the four sacred directions of the universe for their continued protection and safety. Hahoo! “

 ~Dr. Henrietta Mann, Cheyenne~

AUTHOR AND PHOTOGRAPHER: Shelley Bluejay Pierce

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